What is Mindfulness?

As more awareness is brought to mental health, we hear more and more about practicing mindfulness. But what is mindfulness, and why should we practice it? We asked Mansi Brat, Ph.D., a therapist in the Barnes Center at The Arch and facilitator of the Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Workshop, some of our questions.

Q: What is mindfulness?

A: “According to mindful.org, ‘Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.’ Mindfulness as a practice helps us be present in the moment and foster curiosity, openness and acceptance of that moment and other experiences.”

Q: What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?

A: “More mindful people are found to be less often engaged in problematic thinking and more aware of their actions and the resulting consequences. Several studies have shown that practicing mindfulness results in higher brain function, increased attention, focus and clarity, lowered anxiety levels and more. In a world where everyone moves so fast and often takes on more than they can handle, it’s important and very valuable to take a step back and be with yourself for a moment without a thousand thoughts whizzing around in your head.”

Q: Why should mindfulness matter to college students?

A: “A distracted mind is a distressed mind, and college students are prone to more distractions. With the stresses and struggles of everyday college-life, especially in a time where life moves so quickly and so many aspects of life are accessible at the touch of a button, it’s easy for one to get too caught up in their own mind.”

Q: What is the Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Workshop?

A: “The Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Workshop is a 7 session workshop that introduces students to mindfulness as a means for managing stress and difficult or painful emotional experiences. Participants attend weekly sessions where they learn a variety of mindfulness meditation and self-compassion practices. Participants are also encouraged to practice at home each day and discover changes in their physical, emotional, and psychological health.”

Q: Why would students participate in the workshop?

A: “Those who participate will benefit in a number of ways: they’ll notice a decrease in their stress and anxiety levels; an increase in their ability to be present; and learn to recognize and manage emotions, build healthy relationships and become more compassionate to themselves and others. Overall, participants will notice changes in both their mental and physical health.”

Q: How can students join the group?

A: “Students can join by calling the Barnes Center counseling team at 315.443.8000 and expressing their interest. A brief orientation is required before signing up and students are asked to attend all seven sessions. The workshop is every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. starting Wednesday, March 11. So be sure to sign up soon!”